My Other Blog

Actually the title is misleading- I think I have five other blogs. But that’s waaayy to many to keep track of. I update this one and then then the one for work.  Well, I guess actually I update three for work. But the other one I’m talking about is our 2009 store progress. I’ll provide updates here periodically, but the new store has it’s own page on our website so I won’t post pictures here. Anyway, check it out! They should finish up all the framing this week. My excitement is balanced only by the fact that somehow all of our stuff has to end up in the new building.

Cam’s New Groove

It’s certainly been awhile since my last post (Google dropped my page rank… I’m sorry Sergi and Larry! Forgive me!). Hopefully updates will be a little more frequent now that my life has settled down. Last year my businesses sucked up all of my free time (and then some)  but I think all of our major projects are out of the way now. It’s will be nice to have some time to write.

But I’m not ready for a major post yet. You have to ease you way into these things. I’ll get something up later this week. The US economy seems to be falling apart and I’ve got a few thoughts on that.


Blog Bog

There’s literally something blog worthy every day, and it was my intention to blog at least once a week. I find time is exceptionally tight these days as I’ve taken on some new projects. I expect I’ll seldom make a large post more than once a month for the next 6 months or so (hopefully it will be a more comprehensive post). In the meantime I’m sure I’ll still throw up a bit ‘o Cam now and then (maybe no pictures).

Comments? No.

Some hyperactive spam bots found my business blog (this blog, people). After deleting over three hundred would be spamments (spam + comments = spamment… no, not working, but you heard it here first) I shut off the option to leave comments. But then I compromised; if you create an account you can still post a comment. I figured very few blog spam bots would be interested in an account and it would derail their attempts to peddle junk here. So far, so good.

Been awhile since my last post. I have no good excuse except that when I work too hard to start to ooze a foul smelling pus. In order to avoid this I’ve been relaxing a little more than I used to. But I had the pus sack removed this past week and will be working harder than ever now. I’ve got a post coming up about how to fit in. Sorry- it’s not going to be a feel good story about a boy named Charlie who finds a way to make friends despite his speech impediment and stink pus. The post will have info about how to cram your business into an existing market place.  Leave a web browser window open and keep clicking your refresh button.

A Brief Overview and Welcome

This is my first post! It’s actually just the content from the “About Cam” page but I’ve ingeniously used it again here as a blog entry. Allow me to welcome you to my newest blogging venture: Cam on Commerce. I’m your host, Cam. I’ll be talking about- you guessed it (and if you didn’t then you may want to bail here)- Commerce!

I’m using this website as a venue to collect innformation I hope to use in a book one day.  At this point the book doesn’t have a name or anything fancy like that. I’ll frequently make references to the “book” so you have to pretend that what you’re reading is printed material (and you you want to print out this blog you have my blessing).

Feel free to send me questions about ecommerce subjects- I’ll do a Q&A section for some posts (and then cleverly work the into my book to create the illusion of substance!). So, without further ado, let the “book” begin.

First things first: I want everyone to know who this book is for. Far too often people pick up a book and they scan page after page desperately hoping the book can help them. They buy the book, they read it, and discover that they are not the book’s intended audience (It turns out “Asymmetric Cellular Division” wasn’t about why AT&T and Cingular sucked).

This book is for anyone who has any interest in ecommerce (specifically geared toward smaller private endeavors- not things like Amazon). You may be curious about what running an ecommerce website entails. It may be your first time setting up a commerce oriented website or it may be your second or third (indicating you need this book). You may already be successfully running an ecommerce website (you still need this book, dammit). You may have a brick and mortar store and be considering and Internet presence. Again, it’s for anyone with any type of entrepreneurial ecommerce itch (not to be confused with a tick bite).

I try to cover anything relevant to small scale ecommerce. I start at the beginning with “the urge” (which is the initial idea that eats at you until you do something about it). We move onto product or service selection and competitive advantage. We work through creating an identity, building a website, creating a fulfillment framework and then cover advertising and website traffic. Finally we talk about what to do if success hits, what to do if success is MIA and touch on growth strategies and exit strategies. If this sounds dull go find yourself a comic with some pictures.

So what makes me qualified to talk about any of this? I have a computer, some spare time and can type pretty darn fast with only two fingers. Also, for the last five years I’ve been involved with the development of ecommerce software and I’ve started several websites (using that software) that are now multimillion dollar companies. I don’t mean to toot my own horn but if my claim to fame was that I’d spent the last five years eating oatmeal in a sensory deprivation chamber to achieve inner peace I might be the wrong guy to listen to. Toot toot.

About Me:

My name is on the front of this book. I’m not so self centered that it needs to be repeated here (after all it’s on the front cover of this book! Just getting myself psyched up- remember I said this was going to be a book). I’ve been programming since I was fourteen. Unfortunately I can’t program any better now. Luckily this book isn’t about programming, it’s about commerce, specifically ecommerce. I’ve been involved in commerce since I was seven years old. How about that?

My grandmother used to operate a health food store. For some reason I thought if I drew pictures of Grimace, the purple McDonald’s character of years past, hiding in the forest people would want to buy them. I put them for sale in the health food store. No takers. Not much later I got a copy of Print Shop for the Apple IIe and tried my hand at designing birthday cards. Nope. So I began printing out signs advertising my willingness to mow lawns for spare change. Nothing. Weeding? No. Babysitting? Nada. It wasn’t until I began hauling my sister’s toys down to the street corner and selling them to kids who were coming back from school that I found my calling. Retail.

EBay was thrilling for me. From the moment I learned of its existence I was an avid user and proponent. This was my first real experience with ecommerce. I sold anything I could get my hands on and became quite obsessed with the whole idea of Internet retailing. I decided at the early age of fifteen that my destiny involved some type of ecommerce retail business. I used eBay for years until one day I read something about webstore technology. How wonderful! I could bypass eBay, the seller fees, the non-paying bidders, the lack of control in my listings. I enlisted the help of a good friend and we created our first website for selling pocket knives (sell what you know).

Our original website was incredibly basic- we could showcase items and people could add them to a cart a checkout. We kept track of orders on a spread sheet and everything was a wonderful mess. We spent a considerable amount of time looking for more powerful ecommerce software but really didn’t have any luck. And then it hit us! We would build our own ecommerce solution and our website could be the perfect testing ground. People who actually used the ecommerce software they designed to run a retail Internet store! What a novel idea.

The Road Ahead

I’ve said it before and I’m sure everyone will hear me say it again. It’s seems impossible for me to to find time for everything. Work, family, friends, health, religion, education, hobbies, chores, blogging… Some people manage to balance everything and I can’t figure out how they do it. On a good day I perform a passable juggling act. I’m about to turn 30 (less than a week) and I’ve got to give careful consideration to my time (it’s running out!)

These days I cram in more and more work.  Jim operates Blaze Commerce and I just signed on as a part owner and we have plans to overtake the local ecommerce market.  Over here at BladeHQ we’re getting ready to open our “real” retail shop and there’s a huge amount of prep work to do before the remodeling. We’ve also got plans to fire up a slew of new websites so we can keep costs covered. If I was a single guy and sacrificed every aspect of my personal life then there’d be plenty of time.

But I’m not- I’m married, I have three kids.  It’s sad to miss pieces of their childhood. It only happens one time and you’re either there, or you’re not. Don’t get me wrong- I come home from work every evening to see my family but it’s not enough for me. In the the grand scheme of things I keep hoping that I can get work “out of the way” and then go play. So far so good, but it really takes it toll. And part of me wonders if it’s really worth it. It’s been physically destructive… I can say that much.

For my birthday I ordered a sole treadmill. It should be here next week. I have plans to hop on the thing every day for about 30 mins. Where will that time come from? I don’t have television, I have’ read a book in months and I only sleep 6 hours as it is (with the exception of Saturday, when my wonderful wife lets me sleep in). Another 30 minutes a day is going to be tough! But given that my body weight has increased by 129% in the last four years I figure an intervention is necessary- even if it comes from me.

I’m sure I’ll find a way to throw one more ball into my chaotic juggling regime. I always do. Focus is a real key to success. I’m often amazed at how much time I can waste surfing the Internet, browsing catalogs in the bathroom, or sometimes just staring into space. If I can harness some of that I’m sure I can scrape together 30 minutes of time to treadmill it up. I can stare into space while I run (well… walk… I’m sure I’ll be walking at first).

And so… that’s why I haven’t been a consistent blogger. Blogging is lower down on my list of priorities and often gets pushed to the side. “I need to blog… but I haven’t slept in 13 days… I must sleep.” I don’t anticipate any change, but if I can think of something to jettison I will blog more. Any ideas?

Blog Voyeur

Blogs are interesting little windows into other’s lives. My wife posted a slew of blog links on our family page. Friends, church members, strangers… all with their own links to other blogs. It’s an endless network of life online. Sometimes the information is very general, but sometimes it’s very personal. I wonder how many people read blogs and experience a degree of vicarious enjoyment. I suppose I’m guilty to a degree.

 There’s no blog I read religiously (except for mine of course- yeah, I go back a reread my blog every day… gives me a rush, you know?), but it’s fun to see what other people are up to. So and so built a new house, the whose its had a baby and the what’s their heads switched jobs. Who doesn’t get some twinge of pleasure from reading a blog? Sure, there are blogs so boring that that the voyeur blog rush (VBR) is not present, but they are pretty few and far between. You just need to make inappropriate comments on those blogs to spice things up.

 And then there’s the pleasure derived from sharing information gleaned from a person’s website with that very same person. “How on earth could you know that?” they wonder. Somehow the fact that they posted it on the Internet where it is accessible to the entire 6 billion inhabitants of earth just doesn’t cross their mind.

Still, technology has made the world a very small place in some ways. The amount of available information is overwhelming. One can consume only so many blogs, myspace pages, facebook something or others and social networking doodads a day. As a blog voyeur you have to be a little picky.

“Where have you been?” Yeah, yeah…

I’m finally getting caught up from last year, in regard to work. It’s been a great year for the business. However “great year” translates into “lots of work.” Two weeks into January and we’re finally settling back into our normal routine… whatever that is. Lots of good things coming up- I’ll be posting more about those in the near future.

This past week proved to be both heart wrenching and stressful. Most of the info is available on our Family Blog, but I will summarize a little here. On Jan 6th I arrived at church around 11:15. As I pulled into the parking I saw people running out of the church building. I realized that they were running toward someone on the ground. My first thought was that the person has slipped. However, getting closer I could feel the tension in the air, see the blood on the ground, and the tears in the eyes of onlookers.  I went inside to find Francoise, knowing she would be worried. We soon learned that Kristy Ragsdale has been shot and killed by her estranged husband, Dave. Church was cancelled and we went home confused and shaken. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have done something if I’d been five minutes earlier (I probably would have been shot). One of the bullets from the shooting entered our car thought the radiator and did some damage. Hopefully we’ll have our car back soon sans the bullet.  A memory blog has been set up for Kristy here.

Other stuff: Mike had a birthday on Dec 3rd. He’s four now! My personal memory really kicked in around four. I imagine he’ll remember stuff from here on out… I’ll have to start being nice to him. Christmas was good. We kept it pretty low key this year.  New Year’s was fun. The Sabins posted about it over on their blog (have a look at the “Going Greek” entry). We purchased Rock Band and have been playing it steadily since (Everyone is welcome anytime to play- invite yourself right over!).  It’s 4:30 in the morning right now, so I’d better get back to work!